Just Play!

Just Play!
Recapturing a Little Bit of Our Childhood

When did you stop playing? I mean playing like a child. When did the childish games you played start to seem too childish. When did the carefree games that seemed to have so few rules get replaced by the ones with so many? When did competing against yourself take a back seat to competing against others?

If I could pick one thing that we could do to reduce the effects of aging and live a longer more fulfilling life, it would be to just play. Something happens to us when we are at play, in that moment we aren’t just enjoying life, we are enjoying living. Playing is something that came naturally to us as children, like it was in our DNA, but at some point on the road to adulthood we stopped playing as much and maybe even at all. Eventually, the daily grind took over our priority list and playing became the thing that we watched others, or our kids do.

Jumping off of things and over things, crawling under things and through things, running up mountains and riding down them, swimming across rivers and lakes, all became more trivial and even pointless because they didn’t produce anything “tangible”. When we gave up these things we did something terrible to ourselves - we grew up. And if we aren’t careful, if we don’t change course, we will do something to ourselves that’s even worse - we will grow old.

But that desire to play did not disappear, it just got locked away. That inner child, the one deep down inside us, the one that still wants to go out and play, is still there, we just need to find a way to set him or her free. It may not be easy at first, but when we do find ourselves doing something that is fun and exciting and even playful, we need to savor the moment for as long as we can, and then resolve to do more of that.

We need to play like we did when we were children. We need to run, jump, climb, ride, explore, fall down, get banged up, scraped up, cut up, and maybe even break something once in awhile. We need to experience the pain and discomfort that comes with the adventure, so we can be reminded that we are alive, not numb and complacent on the couch. These temporary “intangible” gains will produce a lifetime of fulfillment.

Is it even possible to not be happy when we are playing? If playing leads to happiness, and more happiness leads to more contentment, and more contentment leads to fulfillment, then the best way to lead a life of fulfillment (self-actualization) is to just get out and play.

Take care and I’ll see you out there!